Footy and netball is back

NORTH Gippsland-Football Netball League newcomer Yallourn-Yallourn North will take on Yarram on Friday at the Yarram Recreation Reserve to open the 2021 season.

The senior and A grade matches will be twilight fixtures, and should attract much interest by the football and netball-following public, who have been starved of live sport for what seems like an eternity.

YYN has entered the NGFNL after claiming the senior and reserves football flag in 2019 in the Mid Gippsland league. The club has enjoyed much recent success, and is hopeful of making its presence felt in the NGFNL.

In season 2021, Yarram is hoping to make amends for its seven-point loss to Churchill in the 2019 NGFNL grand final after defeating the Cougars for the 2018 premiership. Yarram has also won the past two reserves premierships.

The Demons will provide stern opposition to the Bombers. Both sides have developing thirds teams and a full complement of netball teams to contest the day.

Yarram coach Justin Staley said he was pleased with the list the Demons football department had assembled, and despite losing several players to other clubs during the long interval, was confident they would be a competitive outfit this year.

Bolstered by a number of key midfield additions such as James Saliakos, Callan Vandyke and Boadie Motten, the Demons will feel they have the depth and class to overwhelm opposition teams and push for the premiership.

Motton, a former Gippsland Power player, has spent time at VFL club Box Hill, while Vandyke most recently played in the Mornington Peninsula-Nepean league – often regarded as having the highest standard in country football.

Despite the quality inclusions, Yarram will sorely miss reigning best-and-fairest runner-up Liam Farley, who has decided to take his talents to the Gippsland League and play for Traralgon.

Moving into 2021, Staley said the Demons would be aiming to go one better than 2019.

“We’re trying to stay up there and be competitive with everyone else, stay in the top rung and try and go one better than last time,” he said.

A long standing rivalry between the two leagues will provide an extra spark of interest in the fixture as the respective sides do battle. Interleague clashes in the 1980s and 1990s were keenly contested, and the winning league enjoyed bragging rights until the next year.

YYN coach Barrie Burnett was excited to see what his team could achieve in the new league.

“I’ve heard that [North Gippsland is stronger] for years – you hear those sort of things,” Burnett said.

“But at the end of the day I think our side can compete with many teams from any league, so we are excited to see where we are at.”

The Bombers have recruited Tindarra Hood from Fitzroy Stars and former Morwell premiership player Mannon Johnston.

Junior netball will begin at 11.30am and the thirds football will do battle from 1pm. A grade netball and senior football will begin at 5pm.

The fixture is a COVID-safe event and the public is asked to observe all protective protocols on the day, including scanning into the venue on arrival. Some modified conditions will apply including change room access.

The opening round will conclude next weekend, with Sale City heading to Gormandale, Heyfield hosting Cowwarr, Rosedale welcoming Traralgon-Tyers United, and Glengarry heading to Woodside.

Churchill has the round one bye.

Coach: Justin Staley.

Previous season: grand finalist (18 wins, three losses).

In: Jake Anderson (Southern FNL), Brayden Askew (Woodside), David Ritchie-Brinker (Sale), Jake Carrison (Central Midlands), Korey Carrison (Ellinbank and District FNL), Roland De Biase (Southern FNL), Liam Mitchell (Glengarry), Boadie Motton (Korumburra-Bena), James Saliakos (VAFA), Jayden Shea (NTFL), Joshua Swift (Southern FNL), Tyler Thornton (Talangatta DFL), Callan Vandyke (Foster).

Out: Jesse Biemans (Southern FNL), Leigh Biemans (Toora), William Bodman (Southern FNL), Riley Condick (Kilcunda-Bass), Ben Mattern (Woodside), Liam Farley (Traralgon), Ashleigh Radford (Lucknow).

Coach: Barrie Burnett.

Previous season (in MGFNL): premier (17 wins, no losses, one draw).

In: Tindarra Hood (Fitzroy Stars), Braydan Paulet (Warragul Industrial), Campbell Staff (Moe), Mannon Johnston (Northern FNL).

Out: Keenan Hughes (Goldfields FL), Jace Paulet (AFL Queensland), Tyler Brown (Morwell).